Kashmiri separatist groups on Sunday met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's advisor Sartaj Aziz here, drawing a sharp reaction from Bharatiya Janata Party which said the government is committing a "diplomatic blunder" by allowing this.
Emerging from an hour-long meeting at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, the moderate faction led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said that the talks were aimed at finding a lasting political solution to the Kashmir issue, a key element for normalising ties between the two countries.
Besides the Mirwaiz, JKLF Chief Yaseen Malik and hardline Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Dukhtaran-e-Millat had separate meetings with Aziz.
Geelani, who had arrived near Pakistan High Commission much before time, decided not to enter the premises till the team led by Mirwaiz was there. The moment they came out, Geelani went in.
"We want to see that the relations between the two countries are good and this would be possible only after the Kashmir issue is settled in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," the Mirwaiz said.
To a question that the BJP had opposed their meeting with Aziz terming it as anti-national, the Hurriyat Chairman replied, "I wonder how this is anti-national. The meeting is aimed at finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue which is in the interest of India, Pakistan as well as people of Jammu and Kashmir."
BJP President Rajnath Singh said, "By allowing Sartaj Aziz to hold talks with Kashmiri separatists the UPA government has committed another diplomatic blunder with serious costs to national security and national interest.”
The government, however, maintained it is not compromising in any way on the Kashmir issue.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, "The Hurriyat should also introspect on this matter that if they are really representatives of the people then they must participate in the democratic process."
The Mirwaiz replied that Hurriyat had been meeting with Pakistani leaders during the NDA regime under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his deputy L K Advani.
"Sad to see them (BJP) terming this meeting as anti-India. In fact such talks must be encouraged," he said, adding, "we seek cooperation not confrontation" from BJP and other political parties.
About the recent escalation of tension along the Line of Control (LoC), the Mirwaiz said, "military solution is no solution. We have been advocating peaceful means. Killings of soldiers on either side does not help."
He said the recent border tension was discussed during their meeting.
The Hurriyat leader expressed happiness that Aziz was meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Monday.